Bows > Crossbows

Practice Makes Perfect

Establishing the all-important calm-under-pressure attitude that it takes to outsmart that buck takes time, patience and most of all hardcore practice.


A harmonious relationship with your bow is an advantage that can hardly be measured. The confidence in knowing that you can make the shot when that big old bruiser comes crunching through those fall leaves will steady your hand.

Establishing the all-important calm-under-pressure attitude that it takes to outsmart that big boy takes time, patience and most of all hardcore practice.

When I purchased my Fred Bear Team Realtree Xtreme a few years back I spent the months of July and August getting to know my new bow. Along with shooting it almost every day, I worked with the Adjustable Damping System (ADS) elements on the TRX to eliminate the noise and vibration. Who knows how much the small tweaks helped, but I bagged two bucks on public ground in my first season hunting with the TRX.

That just goes to show if you are comfortable with every aspect of your bow and can eliminate most of the operator error, your chances of landing that trophy buck skyrocket. Plus, just hearing the arrow-to-target impact can bring back vivid memories from the field.

In the end, that is all we have during the dreaded time at home, the recollection of hits and misses and the preparation for that once-in-a-lifetime encounter with a trophy buck. Here are some tips to help bring you closer to your bow and make that practice perfect.

Five Quick Practice Tips

1. Get out there and shoot. Keep your arm strong and your bow tuned, and practice breathing and mental focus. If you have the time, 10 to 15 shots every other day leading up to the season should do it. Spending consistent time with your bow will help you better understand your effective range, allowing you to sight your pins according to need.

2. Simulate hunting conditions as best you can and start with the scenarios in which you failed. Be as authentic as possible. Sure, it's great to shoot at a fixed bag or 4x4 box at ground level, but it's just not the same as letting one fly at a 3-D trophy from your trusty stand. For my practice sessions I set up a Treestand Buck from Rinehart, which has anatomy lines and can provide most, if not all, true-to-life angles. Place your target at the angle and distance of your last miss, jump in that climber and sling a few. Wear at least the outer layer you don in the field and if possible put on your entire hunting get-up. As always, be sure to use a safety harness and make sure your target is clear to shoot.

3. When I learned how to shoot it was always with practice blades. Practice blades can recreate the flight of the arrow in the field, while keeping your hunting blades sharp and allowing you to hang onto that target a little longer. Muzzy provides practice blades that match the flight of a normal broadhead without the sharp edges destroying your target. But as targets have evolved to include self-healing foam, multiple fields and replaceable inserts, you can use hunting tips or even expandables and still keep your target in pretty good shape. Sight your bow in with practice blades and shoot three or four times with your broadheads prior to heading to your stand. Either way, pick your favorite blade for practice and stick with it.

4. If your backyard doesn't accommodate such a setup, find a local 3-D range. There are archery clubs in most states and some provide outdoor ranges equipped with range officers and targets for kids. Many outdoor retailers now provide indoor ranges and interactive video ranges, the most savvy of which keep an archery staffer on hand that can lend valuable expertise to shooters.

5. Another option is your local pro shop. In addition to recommending the appropriate tips, nocks and arrows, these qualified folks can outfit you with the accessories to complete your personalized set up, which might include a new stabilizer, release, rest or peep.

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